Viral & Autoimmune Hepatitis
Dr Hamish Innes from Glasgow Caledonian University will develop a new clinical prediction model which estimates the benefit of liver cancer screening for patients with liver cirrhosis, who have been cured of hepatitis C.
With this model, clinicians will be able to identify those patients who will gain the most from screening in terms of increased life expectancy (and vice versa, those who are likely to benefit minimally or not at all). This is something that existing prediction models are not able to do.
Dr Innes said: “There are so many reasons why research in this area is important. One key issue is that there has been a huge increase in the number of patients with liver cirrhosis who have achieved a hepatitis C ‘cure’ - and we don't really understand right now which patients need to be screened for liver cancer and which, if any, do not. Also, liver cancer screening is currently performed in a very ad-hoc way in many clinics; improved prediction models could facilitate a more systematic and consistent approach to screening for all patients.
“We hope this project will improve survival rates, following a diagnosis of liver cancer, in patients with cirrhosis and a hepatitis C cure. The modelling framework we develop could also be adapted to liver cancer screening for patients with other forms of chronic liver disease, such as alcohol-related liver disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.”
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Infectious diseases - viral hepatitis
Why is there a need to fund new research?
Viral hepatitis is an infection that causes liver inflammation and damage. Chronic hepatitis can lead to cirrhosis of the liver, liver failure, and liver cancer.
Viral hepatitis B and C affect 325 million people worldwide, causing 1.4 million deaths every year. Although hepatitis B is more common in southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, it still affects around 180,000 people in the UK. Around 215,000 people have hepatitis C, making it the most common type of viral hepatitis in the UK.
Current and new viral hepatitis treatments can sometimes lead to a cure, but this is often hampered by medical cost, a high requirement for patient compliance, medical complications, and additional complications associated with the prospect of life-long antiviral therapy.
Due to inherent problems with existing treatments, new approaches are urgently needed.